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Stage 3; Help!
Aug 27, 2001

I have just learned my brother has aids, with a c4 count below 200, 3 episodes of pneumonia, now double pneumonia, at least 2 tumors in lung/stomach, and yestarday his lung collapsed. They are supposed to be getting him some medicine, say he has no immune system now. No one will tell us if he will live, he is terrified and cries unendingly, he doesn't know what is happening to him. We don't know what to tell him. He wants to get out of the hospital and "go home" to a small rural town without a doctor and the nearest hospital with aids facilities is 100 miles away. We don't want to encourage him on doing something that would harm him. I believe in reading the postings these are the related diseases that point out full blown aids, but he was told he is in Stage 3 of full blown aids. Nowhere can I find what this means, how long he can expect to live, etc. Please help!

Response from Dr. Feinberg

There is no "stage 3" of "full-blown AIDS", so don't let this obscure terminology get you down. Your brother does indeed have AIDS, and even people with zero T cells when they are diagnosed can be successfully treated and thrive subsequently-- I've seen this occur many times. Even patients with "tumors' have improved. Try to convince your brother to stay in an area where HIV/AIDS expertise is available, and if that's not where he is currently, then see if you can get him moved. Certainly he should not move to a rural area if this expertise is not available there. With combination therapy for HIV and preventive medicine for Pneumocystis pneumonia, his chances of getting better are excellent. If the "tumors" are a lymphoma, that is potentially treatable, too.

Your brother also sounds depressed, which is understandable. Ask the physician taking care of him to have him evaluated for antideprpessant therapy-- that could help a lot. And look for a local support group for yourself as well as your brother, so you can both find adequate emotional and social support. Don't give up! If he responds well to HIV therapy, he may live for years.

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